We knew something was wrong with Number Two. The downturned mouth. The pained gaze. Her mother put her arm around her and asked her what was troubling her. Then it all came out. Santa isn’t real.
Some of the kids on her class had been discussing it. She’d heard vicious rumours of this sort before but we’d always been able to quash them with the old “Well they’ll be feeling stupid when they don’t getting anything in their stockings Christmas Day!” routine.
But there comes a point when you realise you can’t keep this up forever. Next year she goes to High school for chrissake – she’s going to be eaten alive if we don’t start easing gently her into the adult world. At the same time I feel her pain. Somehow, the world just became a little less magical.
Khaleesi looks to me to offer some words of wisdom. All I can manage is Err, umm, oh well. She wants me to explain that Christmas will be no less magical, that it’s not about fat old bearded guys performing impossible descents down chimneys that are barely wide enough to accommodate a guinea pig. It’s about being surrounded by people you love, telling – and showing – them how much you love them. Which all begs the question, seeing that she’s so versed in these arguments, why doesn’t she offer the words of wisdom instead?
Truth is, I’m quite broken up about this moment and I’m too traumatised to deliver any wise words. Santa, The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny. Sure it’s all a lie – but it’s a good lie. Eyes wide with wonder, limbs fidgeting with excitement. The spell once broken can never be remade. The best we can hope for is to relive it one day by proxy, through our kids.
The best consolation, surprisingly, come from Groucho who tries to soften her little sister’s grief by recounting her own horror at the discovery. She figured it out for herself and was mortified. Apparently for years she’d been writing complaint letters to Santa, telling him that her parents were complete assholes. The sobs were for a while interspersed with chuckles.
There’s that old cliché about dads wanting their little girls to remain little girls forever. I’m not sure I do – life is a journey, after all, and the whole point of a journey is moving on. But at the same time, there are places along the way where it’s nice to linger a little longer. There are some great things to discover on the road ahead – but some pretty shitty things as well. Islamic State, cancer, the list is a long one. Don’t rush to grow up – another cliché, but a good one.
A few days have passed and Number Two seems to have come through it OK. Fingers crossed Khaleesi will be right – her Christmas will be just as magical. And in the meantime, there’s still Tinkerbell – still a believer (for this year at least)